For nearly two months, from the beginning of March to the end of April, it looked like DeMarco Murray was headed for a rebound season in 2016. He was traded from the Eagles to the Titans on March 7, and it appeared like he would be used like a featured rusher again. But in the second round of the NFL Draft on April 29, the Titans made a shocking move to select Alabama running back and Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. And now Murray is back in a timeshare, which was a disaster for him in Philadelphia in 2015 when he shared touches with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Murray was the No. 1 Fantasy running back in 2014 with 1,845 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns and 57 catches for 416 yards. We expected him to regress with the Eagles, and he did with 702 rushing yards and six touchdowns and 44 catches for 322 yards and a touchdown. We'll have to find out how the Titans plan to use Murray and Henry together, but his production in 2015 is likely the range he'll be in again this year. He should work on passing downs for the Titans, but Henry should have the edge at the goal line. The addition of Henry is a tough blow for Murray's upside, and he should be considered a low-end No. 2 running back at best in the majority of leagues. We would only draft Murray in Round 5 at the earliest in most formats.
Murray rushed five times for 20 yards Saturday against the Panthers. Murray got all three drives with the starting offense, while Derrick Henry didn't get to play until the backups came in. While Henry ended up leading the team in rushing, it's clear that the veteran trade acquisition is still being treated as the man in the Titans backfield. He'll have to maintain a high level if he wants to keep the rookie at bay, though.
Murray rushed six times for 93 yards, highlighted by a 71-yard touchdown, in Saturday's preseason opener against the Chargers. Murray wasn't a factor in the passing game, but did plenty of damage on the ground in three drives before giving way to rookie Derrick Henry. Henry also impressed, so it's a good thing the veteran brought his A-game for his Titans debut. Murray is being treated as the unquestioned starter despite a disappointing 2015 season in Philadelphia, but he'll have to maintain a high level to keep the status quo.
According to head coach Mike Mularkey, Murray will see limited reps during the preseason. Murray, who was traded to the Titans in March, is expected to be the staple of their offense this season. Limiting his reps during the preseason could go a long way in preserving the back's health from unnecessary wear and tear. Given Murray's limited action, look for backs such as Derrick Henry, David Cobb, and Antonio Andrews to see increased carries this preseason.
Murray will still be the primary piece of Tennessee's 2016 rushing attack despite the team's second-round selection of Heisman-winning running back Derrick Henryin the draft, the Titans official site reports. Murray was assured by coach Mike Mularkey in the wake of the pick that he will still be the team's workhorse running back, and it's tough not to believe him considering the Titans just traded for the 28-year-old and his $6,000,000 salary this offseason. Henry put up gaudy rushing totals playing behind an overpowering Alabama offensive line last season, but it looks like he'll have to settle for a secondary role as a rookie unless Murray slips up.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Murray will play fewer snaps out of the shotgun than he did with the Eagles in 2015, The Tennessean reports. "It's safe to say (Murray will be in the I-back role) more than he was last year," Mularkey said. "Marcus (Mariota) will be under center more than he will be in the gun. I would say that for sure." Murray was never comfortable in Chip Kelly's shotgun-heavy system, having done much of his damage with the help of a lead blocker during his time in Dallas. Murray may still play a lot of snaps in shotgun formations on passing downs, but it sounds as if the Titans mostly want Marcus Mariota to work from under center in 2016. Murray is a solid bounce-back candidate and may even be asked to handle a full three-down workload.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|9||11/06||@San Diego Chargers||30||21.50|
|10||11/13||Green Bay Packers||11||15.33|
|15||12/18||@Kansas City Chiefs||4||13.44|
|3 Year Avg||268||1223||9||51||363||1||218|